The heads of the European Commission and the Council of Europe should speak with each other in order to reduce resistance and differences between the two official EU systems. This is what former commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker said in a conversation with NOS, after the dust around the collision in Turkey had vanished.
During a visit by Turkish President Erdogan in Ankara, the President of the European Council had a seat alongside Erdogan and the President of the European Commission just a seat opposite the Turkish Foreign Minister.
Commissioner von der Leyen’s “Ehhh …” word spread when she decided the two men had already taken the seats on social media. #Sofagate is born. The first analyzes were on the basis of gender, division, and governance across Turkey. But Council Chairman Charles Michel caught the wind from the front. He did not realize the uncomfortable diplomatic situation.
Later it turned out that his officials were mainly involved in preparing for the meeting, and were not involved in preparing for the meeting in the European Commission.
Juncker believes that the two presidents should first of all keep talking to each other. “At the time I was working with two of the council chairs: Van Rompuy and Tusk. It wasn’t always easy, but by talking to each other we were able to resolve the differences.”
According to Juncker, the musical chairs in Ankara were the product of commission and council officials who had different interests and sometimes engaged in trench warfare. According to Juncker, the two heads should rise above that, otherwise the machine will collapse.
Yanker is unequivocal about that machine, the foreign policy of the European Union: “According to the protocol, the president of the European Council is number one, and the president of the Commission is the second. And it never bothered me.”
“But both are required,” Juncker continued, “because the Commission Chair is concerned with foreign trade and the chair of the Council on diplomacy. They need each other. And not without reason that External Coordinator Borrell is a member of the European Council, but he is also Vice President of the Commission.”
Openly in the corner
Recently, things have got a lot worse when the European Union is represented to the outside world. The Russian Foreign Minister publicly besieged Foreign Commissioner Borrell. Prior to that, the European Commission had hurriedly demarcated the sensitive border between Ireland and Northern Ireland in an effort to stop vaccine smuggling. It arouses suspicion on either side of the boulevard of Brussels de la Louis, where the Council and Commission buildings are located.
The European Council said: “The Commission must implement the rules and not engage in foreign policy.” There is also mutual annoyance about the two leaders’ public profile. Overly optimistic communication from the Chairperson in high-level video messages is bothering the board. Newsletters and Facebook messages from the Chairman of the Council are once again upset by the committee.
Solve it yourself
According to Jean-Claude Juncker, the fact that the two presidents seem to find it difficult to get through the door every now and then have to solve the problem on their own. For an effective EU foreign policy, they must work together as a team, regardless of what the officials do.
When there is a good relationship, it works and there is a little bit of ambiguity, which is Juncker’s reasoning. “I dealt with Obama and Trump in the United States, and they always knew exactly who they were calling. And they usually called both of us.”
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